22 – The Authority of the Bible
I believe the problem is that men have accepted that their work is secular, even though the Bible proclaims that every vocation is holy to the Lord. While God finds intrinsic value in our work, often we do not. We accept that building the kingdom (the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20) is spiritual, but somehow believe tending the culture (the Cultural Mandate, Genesis 1:28) is less than spiritual. God calls us to do both.
In the church we often find a subtle, implied teaching that if you really want to do something that counts for God you must do a “building the kingdom” activity. Biblically, all of life is spiritual, including “tending the culture” activities. For most men, their vocation is their primary ministry. They have been “ordained” as salesmen, carpenters, executives, drivers, computer programmers, lawyers, policemen, and so on.
So why do men struggle in their marriages and with their work? I believe the root problem is that we have, in general, abandoned the authority of the Bible. Even where Scriptural authority is proclaimed in principle, often it is not applied in practice. Why else would so many Christian marriages end in divorce? The Bible says God hates divorce and prohibits it, except for adultery and desertion. Why else would so many men feel “parked” in a meaningless job? The Bible says that every vocation is a calling from God.
Troubles in Paradise
Surveys conducted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reveal that 90% of Christians lead defeated lives.
Indeed, many men are not finding success that matters. They are caught up in the rat race. They don’t feel like their lives are making a difference. They are disciples of Wall Street, not Church Street. They have been seeking the God they want, not the God who is. By default they have become cultural Christians because they chose not to become biblical Christians.
At the “core” of these troubles is the failure to give supremacy to the Bible. If God did not reveal Himself to us, we would be left to our own best judgment and could not really be sure of anything. But God has revealed Himself and we should devote ourselves to His teaching. Only through submission and obedience to God’s Word will our lives be filled with the joy of abiding in Him (study John 15:9-11).
The leaders of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation narrowed their focus to two central, non-negotiable issues. The first was “salvation by faith alone” Sola Fide. The second was “the authority of the Scriptures” Sola Scriptura.
Why was the authority of Scripture so important to them? The problem they saw was not that men abandoned the Bible, but that they placed their own authority alongside the Bible as a sort of co-equal authority.
Some of the greatest tragedies have come not by the wicked intentions of evil men, but by the misguided good intentions of otherwise fine men. Think of almost any church split. Invariably, good people come down on both sides of whatever issue. There is one supreme opportunity to override man’s propensity to err. The Bible must be the final rule of authority for all matter of faith, doctrine, and life.
What Does The Bible Say About The Bible
So why the Bible? The Bible claims to be the authoritative, infallible Word of God.
Does the fact that the Bible claims to be the authoritative Word of God prove that claim is true? No, of course not. But, it is not insignificant that the Bible does make these claims. Consider these Scriptures . . .
1. The Bible is for now. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
2. The Bible is truth. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
3. The Bible is without error. “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).
4. The Bible is effectual. It produces the intended result. “My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
5. The Bible is trustworthy. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
The Billy Graham Story
Early in his ministry Billy Graham was attending a little conference with some top seminary professors and intellectuals high up on a mountain in California. They told Mr. Graham their doubts about the Bible and showed him what they called the contradictions in the Bible.
He was young. He had only been out of school for a short while and was having his first experiences in preaching. These men were persuasive, and he began to doubt. Finally, he wandered out into the mountains, found a tree stump, and laid his open Bible on it.
“Oh, Lord,” he said, “I do not understand everything in that book, but I accept it by faith as Your Word.” Billy Graham believes the Bible is God’s authoritative, infallible book. He knows that when he quotes the Scriptures he is quoting the Word of God.
I had the awe-inspiring privilege of visiting the mountain-top memorial that commemorates the life-changing experience of Billy Graham. Here is the text of the plaque:
In Honor of Billy Graham
Who had a life changing encounter with God here at Forest Home when as a young preacher he knelt with a Bible in his hands and promised God he would … take the Bible by faith and preach it without reservation.
From that time his preaching was marked by a new and God given authority. Preaching the Scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit he has seen multiplied thousands turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith.
Not everyone, of course, believes the same way as Billy Graham. Robert Ingersoll once said, “In twenty-five years, the Bible will be a forgotten book.” He died in 1899. Who was Robert Ingersoll, anyway?
Voltaire said, “Another century and there will not be a Bible on earth.” He died in 1788. I wonder if his bones have turned to dust yet?
If we did not have the light of God’s Word, we would be like men lost in a pitch black cave. Through the Bible God speaks to us and leads us to freedom, joy, and significance. The doctrine of the authority and infallibility of the Bible is a non-negotiable. How else can we reliably hear from God?
What shapes your views about the important areas of your life (such as family, money, work, etc.)? How important has the Bible been in helping you define your beliefs? Is your commitment to the Bible more theoretical, or is it also practical?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley has been used throughout the world to help men and leaders think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to equip them to have a larger impact on the world.
© 1995. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.